Characterization of non-universal two-qubit Hamiltonians
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It is known that almost all 2-qubit gates are universal for quantum computing (Lloyd 1995; Deutsch, Barenco, Eckert 1995). However, an explicit characterization of non-universal 2-qubit gates is not known. We consider a closely related problem of characterizing the set of non-universal 2-qubit Hamiltonians. We call a 2-qubit Hamiltonian n-universal if, when applied on different pairs of qubits, it can be used to approximate any unitary operation on n qubits. It follows directly from the results of Lloyd and Deutsch, Barenco, Eckert, that almost any 2-qubit Hamiltonian is 2-universal. Our main result is a complete characterization of 2-non-universal 2-qubit Hamiltonians. There are three cases when a 2-qubit Hamiltonian H is not universal: (1) H shares an eigenvector with the gate that swaps two qubits; (2) H acts on the two qubits independently (in any of a certain family of bases); (3) H has zero trace. The last condition rules out the Hamiltonians that generate SU(4)---it can be omitted if the global phase is not important. A Hamiltonian that is not 2-universal can still be 3-universal. We give a (possibly incomplete) list of 2-qubit Hamiltonians that are not 3-universal. If this list happens to be complete, it actually gives a classification of n-universal 2-qubit Hamiltonians for all n >= 3.